Long Posts

    Taking a break from academia

    I’m taking a deliberate break from all things academia and academia-adjacent.

    I spent the past 2 years working on a big project as the key academic personnel on the project. It’s not done; when my contract ended, I had to hand it off to my colleagues. (We couldn’t extend the contract for administrative reasons.)

    I’m sitting on a couple of freelance academic opportunities but as I think about pursuing them, I know it’s just not time yet. I can feel internal resistance and it’s telling me that after being in an academic headspace for more than 8 years, it’s time to do something different for a while.

    Do I plan to come back to these freelance gigs and be available for academic contract work in the future? Yes. Do I plan to return to FanLIS and fan studies more broadly after I fill my well? Absolutely! But right now, that’s not where I’m at.

    It’s kind of like taking a sabbatical.

    🗒️ Week Notes, 2024, Weeks 3 through 5: A Link to the Past and Link’s Awakening Are Super Fun

    It’s three weeks’ worth of week notes at once!

    My son M’s school has a “Day On” on Martin Luther King, Jr. day. They choose a theme for the day and hold a celebration where the whole school community, including parents, is welcome, and then spend the second half of the day on service projects. Our family only did the celebration part of the day this year, but next year I plan for us to help with the part of the day where you sort book donations to Book Harvest. I’m also planning to join the celebration for the choir next year.

    The theme for this year was “Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend.” The choir sang 3 songs I love: “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing,” “Heal the World,” and “Stand By Me.” Middle and high school students read poems they had written. Pauli Murray’s niece and biographer Rosita Stevens-Holsey was the keynote speaker and shared wonderful insight into Rev. Dr. Murray’s life and work. I was so happy to have attended.

    At the end of that week, I took a quick overnight trip to Baltimore to present at the American Library Association LibLearnX conference. In the end, my session was less a presentation or workshop and more a conversation, as we only had about 5 people attending. We were able to really customize the conversation to the participants’ interest. My BFF lives near Baltimore, so I got to have dinner with her the night before the presentation and hang out with her after, when we went to the Edgar Allan Poe house and wandered around a cute shopping area.

    After I got home from that trip, I was exhausted and then a little bit sick, too. So I rested a lot and had a pretty quiet week.

    Then this past week was more quiet time at home and handling administrative stuff like having my car inspected and renewing the registration, rescheduling a dental appointment I canceled due to a migraine, and completing the job application to be the half-time school librarian at M’s school.

    It was a good time for consuming culture. I’ve been reading romance novels, The Age of Cage, and How to Be Parisian Wherever You Are. I watched Emily in Paris. I played A Link to the Past, which is phenomenal and deserves its status as a classic, and the Switch remake of Link’s Awakening, which is super fun.

    Saturday M developed a nasty case of pinkeye. He’s on his second day home from school and on antibiotics for it and seems to be improving.

    That’s it for this post!

    📚 Reading Notes: A Quaker Book of Wisdom by Robert Lawrence Smith, Chapter 9, “Education”

    …a good school is one that is constantly engaged in self-examination, in improving itself, in becoming wiser in its ability to both teach and inspire.

    Smith returns to this idea many times in this chapter. Every school I’ve worked at had some sort of process for this, but Smith says that in a Quaker school, everyone in the school is involved in this process. In the public schools where I’ve worked, there was always a School Improvement Team (PDF). This is basically a committee and it consists entirely of adults. Students aren’t on the SIT. Further, as you might expect in a public school, the success of the School Improvement Team and the School Improvement Plan is evaluated based almost entirely on students’ scores on standardized tests, which to my mind is an incomplete measure of learning.

    It’s a school that is intent on turning out good people who will help make a better world.

    At the beginning of every school year, M’s teachers have us complete a survey and one of the questions is always about our hopes for the school year. We always answer that we want him to grow into himself and to continue to learn how to be a caring member of our community. I love this idea. While I suspect most teachers in most schools have this in mind as their intention, the systems and structures of compulsory public education, at least in North Carolina when I was working in public schools, tended to focus on performance in a few academic subject areas and compliance with school policies. I like the idea of a whole school taking this approach, rather than only individual teachers.

    It’s the soul of a school—its intangible persona, its character, its principles, its daily life over time, the impressions it makes, the efforts it inspires, and the moral authority it possesses—that helps mold a child into an educated, assured, humane, and caring adult.

    Yes! Especially the daily life over time: how we spend our moments is how we spend our days is how we spend our years is how we spend our life. The life of a school is in the day-to-day.

    At a good school teachers and students are jointly engaged in a search for truth…

    This jibes well with a school librarian’s focus on inquiry-driven learning.

    Teachers… work to provide a climate of sensitivity to the human condition.

    This is so critical. When I was a student teacher and first set foot in my mentor teacher’s classroom, I was appalled by what seemed to me to be an out-of-control class with absolutely no attention paid to Latin, the class’s subject matter. (I was 22 and I like to think I’m less judgy now.) By the end of my four months in student teaching, my perspective had totally transformed: I saw that my mentor teacher was more concerned with supporting her students than with a laser focus on their academic achievement, and that her love and support was a critical foundation before they could have academic success.

    Without input from people of differing life experiences and cultures, a school quickly becomes insular and intellectually stagnant.

    It seems obvious but it’s absolutely necessary to say.

    …moments of silence help students center themselves amidst the hubbub of the school day.

    To quote the Carolina Friends School website:

    Settling In and Out
    We use this Quaker practice of shared silence as a meaningful way to make oneself present in the moment, focus or redirect attention, and create a shared energy and sense of intention with a community.

    Back to the book…

    Another characteristic of Quaker schools is that they have involved students in community service at all grade levels.

    Experimental education is the name of the game in Quaker schools, and they are constantly cooking up new ways of doing things.

    And what’s probably my favorite quote from the chapter:

    There is no formula for imparting love of learning. Despite new methodologies, there must always be reliance on the old virtues of skills, care, love, patience, and time.

    Care, love, patience, and time are all things that the structures of public schools make it hard for teachers to prioritize, though I bet most teachers would love to be able to prioritize them.

    🗒️ Week Notes, 2024 Week 2: Zelda II is skippable

    It’s time for another round of Week Notes!

    Monday morning I had my usual coffee work date with my friend C. I worked on my session for LibLearnX, which is the last bit of work related to my postdoc besides reviewing document drafts as my colleagues finish them.

    Tuesday I took M to the dentist for a cleaning. It was a super rainy day, with high winds, so I ended up picking him up early. But we came through the storm okay.

    Wednesday, I planned with my LibLearnX co-presenters and as so often happens, we came up with something way better together than anything I could’ve created on my own.

    M had musical theater dance class on Thursday and I went to a nearby cafe and puttered in Scrivener with a romance novel spark sheet. Just sitting down and typing really moved me forward, so now I have two characters, each with their own self-doubt, to put in a situation where they can fall in love, build each other up, and help each other grow.

    Friday and Saturday we’re very chill days at home, and on Sunday W and I went for lunch at an old favorite diner and ambled around one of our many local independent bookstores before picking up a cookbook I’d ordered online and returning home.

    I read two forthcoming releases last week, The Frame-Up by Gwenda Bond and Love Requires Chocolate by Ravynn K. Stringfield. I actually Internet-know both of these authors, Gwenda Bond from way back in our kidlitosphere days circa 2007 and Ravynn because she taught a workshop I took on creative nonfiction for academics. Both books made me happy and I’m reading at a pace of 2 books a week, which is twice as fast as a typical fast reading pace for me. We’ll see how my reading pace changes throughout the year.

    By myself I watched It’s Complicated, The Intern, and Heartburn. This is because the main character in Timothy Janovsky’s Never Been Kissed is a film guy who wore a G is for Gerwig shirt from Super Yaki. I decided I wanted to know film better and that just going through the oeuvres of auteurs featured on Super Yaki would be a great way to do it, so I’m starting with Nancy Meyers and Nora Ephron.

    W and I have been watching Winning Time: The Rise of the Lakers Dynasty together. It’s his third time watching and my first. It’s a lot of fun. John C. Reilly is incredibly winning.

    I tried playing Zelda II: The Adventure of Link but I didn’t find it fun. After reading this article in Escapist Magazine, which said

    If you’re anything like me, you’re going to die in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link. A lot. And chances are you won’t have a great time doing it.

    And

    If you’re intent on trying it out in 2023, I recommend either playing the SP version on Nintendo Switch that starts you off fully powered up, watching a playthrough on YouTube, or just skipping it…

    I decided first to try the SP version, then when that still wasn’t fun, to watch someone else play on YouTube. Even that wasn’t fun, so I skipped ahead and just watched the last couple of fights.

    Having done that, I started playing The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past and I’m having a blast with that.

    That’s it for this Week Note!

    Book Review: The Frame-Up by Gwenda Bond

    The thing about Gwenda Bond is that she’ll take your favorite microgenre or trope, mix some magic in, and give you a whole new story to enjoy. Which is exactly what she does with The Frame-Up. She takes an art heist story and adds in magic powers that make people good at their roles: mastermind, hacker, and more.

    But Gwenda’s website tagline for a while was “High Concept with Heart,” and even more than the magic, the heart is what really makes The Frame-Up shine. This is a story about a daughter dealing with the fallout of betraying her mother and learning how to be right with herself whether or not her mother ever forgives her.

    Here’s the publisher’s description:

    A magically gifted con artist must gather her estranged mother’s old crew for a once-in-a-lifetime heist, from the author of Stranger Things: Suspicious Minds.

    Dani Poissant is the daughter and former accomplice of the world’s most famous art thief, as well as being an expert forger in her own right. The secret to their success? A little thing called magic, kept rigorously secret from the non-magical world. Dani’s mother possesses the power of persuasion, able to bend people to her will, whereas Dani has the ability to make any forgery she undertakes feel like the genuine article.

    At seventeen, concerned about the corrupting influence of her mother’s shadowy partner, Archer, Dani impulsively sold her mother out to the FBI—an act she has always regretted. Ten years later, Archer seeks her out, asking her to steal a particular painting for him, since her mother’s still in jail. In return, he will reconcile her with her mother and reunite her with her mother’s old gang—including her former best friend, Mia, and Elliott, the love of her life.

    The problem is, it’s a nearly impossible job—even with the magical talents of the people she once considered family backing her up. The painting is in the never-before-viewed private collection of deceased billionaire William Hackworth—otherwise known as the Fortress of Art. It’s a job that needs a year to plan, and Dani has just over one week. Worse, she’s not exactly gotten a warm welcome from her former colleagues—especially not from Elliott, who has grown from a weedy teen to a smoking-hot adult. And then there is the biggest puzzle of all: why Archer wants her to steal a portrait of himself, which clearly dates from the 1890s, instead of the much more valuable works by Vermeer or Rothko. Who is her mother’s partner, really, and what does he want?

    What I loved

    The art, honestly. Great descriptions of art and art periods. Dani is a character with a clear love and respect for the art she forges. The heist crew vibes: everybody’s got their role and while Dani is working with her mom’s estranged team, there is still love there between herself and Mia and Elliott, the two other members of the team close to her age. The intense interiority: always seeing inside Dani’s heart, her desire for her mother’s approval, her regret about her past actions. Most of all, Dani’s sweet dog Sunflower.

    What I need to warn you about

    Not much here, except there are some really garbage parents and their adult kids are dealing with the repercussions of having been raised by such rotten people.

    What I wanted more of

    I mean, I would read a lot more heists with this crew, so… Sequels?

    Who should read this

    People who like fantasy set in our world. People who like heists and secrets. People who like paintings. People who like reading about fancy rich folks. People who like reading about Kentucky. People who like border collies.

    Book: The Frame-Up
    Author: Gwenda Bond
    Publisher: Del Rey
    Publication Date: February 13, 2024
    Pages: 352
    Age Range: Adult
    Source of Book: ARC via NetGalley

    A colorful book cover for “The Frame-Up” by Gwenda Bond, featuring illustrations of a man holding a framed artwork, a woman stealing a painting, and an observing dog. The title and the author’s name are written in large red and white letters. There is also a quote from Holly Black praising the book.

    And, the answer is ...

    Following Alex’s lead, I’m answering some questions.

    Best sandwich? I don’t like having to choose but I really like a good roast beef with provolone on a roll. But there are many other excellent sandwiches.

    What’s one thing you own that you really should throw out? .

    What is the scariest animal? Aside from humans, grizzly bears.

    Apples or oranges? Apples, preferably honeycrisp.

    Have you ever asked someone for their autograph? I have but I think only at the Buffy the Vampire Slayer Posting Board Parties.

    What do you think happens when we die? I like to believe that whatever we each imagine will happen to us is what will happen, that we create our own afterlives. I’m personally planning to be a ghost and haunt my kid and descendants, lovingly.

    Favourite action movie? Raiders of the Lost Ark.

    Favourite smell? Baking.

    Least favourite smell? Rotting flesh.

    Exercise: worth it? Yes but it can be hard with chronic illness, if you have chronic pain or post exertional malaise. If you have those, you have to be choosy with how you do it.

    Flat or sparkling? Sparkling.

    Most used app on your phone? Firefox.

    You get one song to listen to for the rest of your life: what is it? A random track from Brian Eno’s Music for Airports.

    What number am I thinking of? I don’t know, but I’m thinking of 7.

    Describe the rest of your life in 5 words? Underslept reading heart-full mom.

    Now, give us your answers.

    🗒️ Week Notes, 2024 Week 1: Beautiful dragons in crystal forests

    I do so like when other people, like @cygnoir, write week notes, so I thought I’d give it a try.

    On New Year’s Day, my little household made our way over to my parents' house for chili and board games. We played Taco Cat Goat Cheese Pizza, a cute party game. We also played Chutes & Ladders: Marvel Super Hero Squad, because that is the one game M will play by the actual rules.

    We watched Beware the Groove, a documentary my brother made about the making of The Emperor’s New Groove. It’s super cool and I’m proud of him. If you like The Emperor’s New Groove, animation, or movies in general, you should try it out.

    M was back on campus Tuesday for a day camp before school officially started on Wednesday. Tuesday evening, I attended a webinar about Quaker education. M attends a Quaker school and I really hope to work there, so this was a very valuable session for me to attend.

    Wednesday, I had the last team meeting for my postdoc. The report we’ve been working on for a long time is still in progress. My colleagues will be finishing it. (This is a useful example of the impact of funding: the people who wrote the grant had originally written my postdoc as a 3 year postdoc, but when the program officer told them they needed to cut costs in their proposal, they cut the third year. And now there’s no one whose job it is to work on the project full-time anymore, so it has to take a back seat to other projects.)

    I’ll be first author on the report whenever it’s actually published, so that’s nice.

    Thursday was a quiet day. M resumed his musical theater dance class, which he started only because a friend was doing it but now says he really enjoys.

    Friday was another quiet day. Which is good, because Saturday was a big day!

    We went to the NC Chinese Lantern Festival. It’s always beautiful, but this year was extra magical because in honor of the Year of the Dragon, there were many beautiful dragons hanging out in crystal forests.

    Large Chinese lanterns: a dragon and a crystal forest

    There were also a lot of Monkey King-themed lanterns.

    To get a sense of the whole experience, take a look at the online program.

    Sunday was another quiet day which was literally sorely needed, as my body didn’t like me asking it to do so much walking around at the festival, so Sunday was a high pain day. (It’s also possible there was some unexpected corn flour in something I ate.)

    And that’s week 1 of 2024!

    My Reading Year 2023

    Some notes on my reading year 2023. I read 47 books. I overwhelmingly read romance, much more than any other genre. I have no regrets about that. There wasn’t a single book this year that stood out as more of a favorite than the rest.

    We Could Be So Good is the one that grabbed me from the first sentence.

    Mr. & Mrs. Witch is the one that set me on my path of reading mostly romance.

    Dept. of Speculation is probably the one I read fastest.

    I don’t finish books I wouldn’t recommend, so try whatever on this list looks good to you!

    For Never & Always How to Excavate a Heart Kiss Her Once for Me You're a Mean One, Matthew Prince In the Event of Love Eight Kisses Written in the Stars Her Body and Other Parties Future Tense The Blazing World The Hacienda The Haunting of Hill House The Turn of the Screw The Fall of the House of Usher We Could Be So Good An Island Princess Starts a Scandal From Bad to Cursed Payback's a Witch Chef's Kiss Solomon's Crown The Enchanted Hacienda The House in the Cerulean Sea The Neighbor Favor Emily Wilde's Encyclopaedia of Faeries Red, White & Royal Blue Nimona Ana María and The Fox The Very Secret Society of Irregular Witches Hana Khan Carries On You Made a Fool of Death with Your Beauty Ayesha at Last The Widow of Rose House Wyngraf Demon in the Wood Graphic Novel Flowers from the Storm Mr. & Mrs. Witch Guards! Guards! A Spindle Splintered Dept. of Speculation Never Say You Can't Survive Bloodmarked Amsterdam The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet Piranesi The Hate U Give Hell Bent The Mysterious Affair at Styles Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 2) Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy Book 1)

    How I talk about books online 📚

    In today’s issue of Happy Dancing, Charlie Jane Anders writes about how to fix GoodReads to avoid people review-bombing books to lower their ratings.

    I haven’t used GoodReads in a long time but Anders brings up a point that has me wanting to share how I write about books online. Anders shares an anecdote about losing a bunch of star ratings on songs in iTunes and then switching to a simple love/don’t love system, then says:

    And I feel like with books, it’s pretty similar. Did you like this book or not? Would you recommend it to your friends? Would you look out for more books by this author in future? The important questions are all yes or no.

    And this is how I tend to share books when I’m writing about them quickly.

    If I loved a book, I’ll end my short post with “Highly recommend.” If I like it, I’ll just share that I finished it and maybe a brief description. If I don’t like it, I probably didn’t finish it, and I probably won’t post about it at all.

    When I write a full review, I share a summary, what I loved, what I wanted more of, what I need to warn you about, and who should read the book. I only write this kind of review about books I would recommend.

    Since 2007 I’ve had a policy of only publishing positive reviews on my website and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

    📝 Planning Writing Goals with Kate McKean

    Kate McKean’s Agents and Books newsletter yesterday includes a flowchart to help you plan writing goals for next year.

    I’m in the “I need a new idea” bubble, or rather, I have lots of ideas fragments but I’m not psyched enough to write any of them yet so I want to hoard even more ideas. So my goals are to:

    1. Read more. Sure, I’ve read 41 books this year but I know I can read more. Let’s have a loose, gentle goal of 50, counting audiobooks, comics, kids' books, everything.

    2. Journal and blog. I’m going to do at least some of Esmé Weijun Wang’s Rawness of Remembering: Restorative Journaling Through Difficult Times. I’ve also got Austin Kleon’s The Steal Like an Artist Journal and Leigh Bardugo’s The Severed Moon. So I’ll look to those for help, and of course I’ll blog, too. I’m not setting a specific blogging goal but let’s say I’m shooting for some form of long-form journaling at least once a week.

    3. Have fun. If I’m doing 1 & 2 and it’s not fun, I’ll figure out how to make it fun.

    ❤️ The loss of a loved one 🦋

    CW: Parental Death

    My husband, W., has been blessed to have two mothers: the one who gave birth to him and the one who has been a constant presence since his birth as a friend of his parents and who married his dad after his dad and mom divorced. This bonus mom, as I call her, is named Cindy, and she died last Wednesday after a lengthy and unidentified illness.

    Her sister wrote a beautiful obituary for her that does a great job capturing her beautiful spirit. It’s especially hard to lose Cindy right around the holidays, as so much of their magic has been fueled by her beautiful energy and hard work.

    I know that I’m in the midst of grieving my dead when they come to me in dreams. I had a dream on Thursday night that my little household was traveling with Cindy (a thing we actually did sometimes, whether in Scotland or South Carolina). It was a super normal travel experience and a super normal dream and I woke happy to have had such a boring dream about her.

    I’ve been thinking through little moments that make Cindy who she is (and as she lives on in our hearts it’ll be a while before I use past tense to talk about her), and I might write about it later.

    In the meantime, I’ve been thinking through all the little holiday things I can learn from her to make this time special.

    A timeline of my dissertation inspiration📓📝

    For AcWriMoments Day 8, Margy Thomas and Helen Sword encouraged us to trace a lineage of the ideas we work on. I decided to do this with my dissertation because I knew it would be fun, but I didn’t realize how fun.

    1984 Kimberly’s mom makes a gorgeous Blue Fairy (from Pinocchio) costume for Kimberly, launching a lifelong delight in dressing up in exquisite costumes (as opposed to whatever’s lying around) and admiring the exquisite costumes of others. Around the same time, Kimberly’s parents take her to the library often.

    1988 Kimberly’s dad starts library school. Kimberly hangs out at the library school, a lot. She loves it there.

    1994 A guidance counselor who is completely at a loss for what extracurriculars to recommend when she asks Kimberly what she’s into and Kimberly answers, “Reading,” suggests volunteering at the library, so Kimberly does.

    1999 W. (then-boyfriend, now-husband) introduces Kimberly to Final Fantasy, a lovely video game series with gorgeous music. O., the then-boyfriend now-husband of one of W.’s housemates, says to Kimberly while they’re in the middle of playing some board game, “You should be a librarian.”

    2007 Completely stressed out by being an early career high school teacher, Kimberly starts researching library schools.

    2008 W. comes home from work and tells Kimberly that his current boss has inspired him to go to library school so they’re going to library school together.

    2009 Kimberly and W. start library school. Kimberly’s advisor is Sandra. Kimberly loves Sandra. Kimberly gets a job as an RA in an outreach program of the School of Education, providing resources and professional development to K-12 educators. (Resources from this department saved her bacon many times when she was a teacher.)

    2011 Kimberly gets a job as a school librarian split between two middle schools.

    2012 Kimberly’s supervisor from her RA job tells Kimberly, “I’m taking a different job so they’ll be posting this one eventually if you want it.” Kimberly does. The school librarian situation she’s found herself in isn’t what she dreamed of. Eventually Kimberly gets that job and starts working for that outreach program full-time.

    2013 Kimberly starts working on projects where she gets to interview teachers about their work. Her office is down the hall from where the School of Ed hosts all of their brown bags and she goes to a lot of them. She decides she wants to pursue a PhD so she can understand what they’re talking about better and maybe publish research about educators', including school librarians', good work. She figures she’ll do it part time with the tuition remission she gets as a benefit of her job.

    2014 The executive director of the outreach program is fired. (Without cause as far as Kimberly knows.) Kimberly decides that instead of doing the PhD part-time, she’d like to do it full-time, since her program is probably going to be dismantled. She talks to Sandra about the PhD program where she got her master’s in library science and says she wants to work on the library as a place for writing and pop culture engagement. Sandra says there’s a model for this and it’s called Connected Learning. Kimberly applies to the PhD.

    2015 Sandra invites Crystle Martin, a scholar of connected learning and leader in the Young Adult Library Services Association, to talk to students at the library school and invites Kimberly to come to the talk and then join them for lunch. Kimberly and Crystle talk about spending way too much time playing video games.

    2016 - 2017 Kimberly messes around with different dissertation possibilities. She includes a chapter on gaming and libraries in her comps plan.

    2017 Kimberly decides to go to Cosplay America, a costuming convention.

    2018 Kimberly starts work on the gaming comps chapter. She attends a Final Fantasy orchestral concert. People have dressed up in gorgeous costumes as characters from the games. They’re so great it kind of makes her want to cry. The next day, she reads Crystle’s dissertation about the information literacy practices of World of Warcraft players. In the conclusion, Crystle suggests that people could replicate her methods to help validate her information literacy model. Kimberly thinks, “I could do that, but with cosplayers!” She bangs out a dissertation prospectus in 2 hours after literal years of hemming and hawing.

    2019 Kimberly writes her comps, now with a changed set of chapters. She assembles her committee, including Crystle. She writes a blog post about the process and uses a Final Fantasy screenshot in it. She writes and defends her comps. She writes her proposal in November for AcWriMo. She attends a local con and introduces herself to the cosplay guests, telling them she may contact them to participate in her dissertation.

    2020 Kimberly defends her proposal. In freaking February. She has this whole plan that involves going to conventions to talk to cosplayers. AHAHAHAHA. There are no conventions. But she interviews the cosplayers over Zoom.

    2020-2021 Kimberly conducts research, scales her design way back, conducts more research, writes, defends, and graduates. She applies for a postdoc at the Connected Learning Lab, where Crystle worked when they first met. She gets the job.

    2022-present Kimberly hasn’t touched the cosplay work in a long time but has worked on connected learning in libraries for the whole postdoc.

    📝 Revising is hard work, and other thoughts on writing

    I’m participating this year in AcWriMo, which is a month of focused academic writing work inspired by NaNoWriMo.

    I’m doing this work with support from coach Katy Peplin at Thrive PhD and the AcWriMoments series stewarded by Margy Thomas and Helen Sword.

    My current project is something I’m calling The Report: a culminating document sharing what we’ve learned over the course of the grant I’ve been working on with the Connected Learning Lab for the past couple of years.

    My first draft was just a very straightforward recitation of the challenges library staff face when they try to implement connected learning and the strategies library staff experienced with connected learning have used to address those challenges.

    After I shared that draft with my colleagues, we determined that the challenges and strategies should be integrated.

    In trying to write the next draft, I found that all the pieces of the earlier draft were connected in ways that made it hard for me to parse out a linear way to write about them.

    So I made a concept map and shared that with my colleagues, asking for their help in creating a structure for the next draft. One of my colleagues reorganized the concepts, creating a clear structure that I thought would work well for the next draft.

    So I started the next draft. But as I was writing that, I found that the structure we’d determined for one section didn’t really make sense for that section. So I met with the colleague who has the strongest understanding of the work to talk through the idea of changing the structure of that one section.

    After talking with her, I was able to get back to writing.

    But all of this revision has been the opposite of flow. Every word felt like I was having to pull up a tree by the roots.

    I tend to be a two-draft writer, one draft to get ideas out and then one to make it make sense. I love the feeling of breezily generating new text, something that usually happens after I’ve dug deep into a topic and created a solid and super-detailed outline.

    I don’t like revising but if I want my work published anywhere besides my blog, I need to get okay with it.

    This whole process has reminded me of the last time I had to revise like this. I banged out a draft of the discussion chapter of my dissertation over the course of one week in a dissertation bootcamp so intense that I couldn’t do much writing for the next two weeks because my brain was fried.

    I sent that chapter off to my advisor and one other member of my committee and they came back with a gently worded statement that basically came to, there’s really not much here.

    They weren’t wrong, and I wonder if I’d written on my own timeline if that chapter draft would have been better.

    But I got through the hard work of revising and ended with a discussion chapter that makes me really proud.

    I suppose the best way to get okay with something is to do it a lot, so… I should probably do a lot more revising.

    📚 Reading Notes—Collection Management for Youth: Equity, Inclusion, and Learning)—Chapter 1: Why a focus on equity?

    Collection Management for Youth: Equity, Inclusion, and Learning

    Here’s the publisher’s summary of this book:

    With a renewed emphasis on facilitating learning, supporting multiple literacies, and advancing equity and inclusion, the thoroughly updated and revised second edition of this trusted text provides models and tools that will enable library staff who serve youth to create and maintain collections that provide equitable access to all youth. And as Hughes-Hassell demonstrates, the only way to do this is for collection managers to be learner-centered, confidently acting as information guides, change agents, and leaders.

    I’m reading an ebook so quotes won’t have page numbers.

    ⭐ systemic inequalities ⭐

    “Advancing equity must be our goal.”

    ⭐ “Equity means that everyone gets what they need to thrive no matter their identity or zip code. When we focus on equity, our ultimate goal becomes justice.” ⭐ GREAT DEFINITION OF EQUITY

    demographic data = useful for trends, not getting to know individual youth & communities

    opportunity gap: marginalized youth disproportionately experience it

    EVEN IN HIGH-RESOURCE ENVIRONMENTS:

    • special ed
    • discipline
    • school climate

    “Libraries are not immune to perpetuating inequities.”

    disconnection & exclusion

    outsider in the library

    behavior control → denied access

    LIBRARY MAY BE ONLY SOURCE OF INTERNET ACCESS

    < ½ LGBT YOUTH CAN FIND INFO @ SCHOOL

    in/accessibility

    chilling effect of book challenges

    LIBRARY STAFF MUST FACE SYSTEMIC INEQUITIES

    GORSKI equity literacy framework

    “BE A THREAT TO THE EXISTENCE OF INEQUITY”

    1. RECOGNIZE
    2. RESPOND → immediate term
    3. REDRESS → long-term
    4. CREATE & SUSTAIN bias-free & equitable environments & cultures

    STRUCTURAL IDEOLOGY MODEL

    it challenges:

    • deficit view → asset
    • paradigm → abundance

    DEVELOP COLLECTION POLICIES THAT DON’T REPRODUCE INEQUITIES

    Focus on what you CAN DO

    MOVE BEYOND MAKING SPACE → YOUTH MUST BE ACTIVE PARTICIPANTS & LEADERS

    Other reading notes for this book: Introduction

    Reading Notes—Collection Management for Youth: Equity, Inclusion, and Learning—Introduction

    The cover of the book Collection Management for Youth: Equity, Inclusion, and Learning

    Collection Management for Youth: Equity, Inclusion, and Learning by Sandra Hughes-Hassell

    Here’s the publisher’s summary of this book:

    With a renewed emphasis on facilitating learning, supporting multiple literacies, and advancing equity and inclusion, the thoroughly updated and revised second edition of this trusted text provides models and tools that will enable library staff who serve youth to create and maintain collections that provide equitable access to all youth. And as Hughes-Hassell demonstrates, the only way to do this is for collection managers to be learner-centered, confidently acting as information guides, change agents, and leaders.

    Roles held by the manager of a learner-centered collection:

    • change agent
    • leader
    • learner
    • resource guide

    Goals of the learner-centered collection manager:

    1. Ground collection development decisions and practices in an equity framework.
    2. Adopt a learner-centered model of collection management that guides collection decisions and demonstrates accountability in the learning process.
    3. Redefine the role of collection manager to support the concert of library staff serving as a teacher and information guide who actively centers equity in their collection development practices.
    4. Apply appropriate strategies and tools for working in the learner-centered, equity-based paradigm that demonstrates knowledge of the learner, recognition of equity issues, familiarity with educational theories, awareness of resources, and attentiveness to the uniqueness of the community the library serves.
    5. Form a community of practice that shares responsibility for defining, developing, and evaluating the development and delivery of library resources to facilitate youth learning and advance equity.

    The equity framework:

    • learner-centered
    • library staff as teacher
    • library staff as information guide
    • educational theories
    • unique community
    • community of practice

    An equitable access environment reflects:

    • learner characteristics
    • best practices in pedagogy
    • changes in resource knowledge base
    • partnerships with the broader learning community
    • commitment to equitable access

    📚 It's cozy fantasy season!

    I think between reading a few Gothics (The Fall of the House of Usher, The Turn of the Screw, The Haunting of Hill House, The Hacienda) and watching Mike Flanagan shows, I’ve scratched my Gothic itch and it’s now time for me to turn to cozy reading. And because I’m me, that means cozy fantasy.

    I first learned about Cozy Fantasy when I heard about Wyngraf Magazine, which I think I learned about in the Signal Boost section of Alasdair Stuart’s The Full Lid, which I learned about because it was a Hugo nominee for best fanzine. And I was looking at the Hugo nominees because those are the awards from the World Science Fiction Convention aka Worldcon, which is mentioned on Wikipedia’s page on fandom as an early and ongoing convention. (Yes, this is an example of how my web wanderings work and how much I love to live the dream of the 1990s.)

    The note about Wyngraf talked about fantasy in the vein of The Hobbit and Redwall and I thought it sounded good and like exactly what I needed in a world that has been both personally and globally terrifying for years.

    Cozy fantasy is exactly what it sounds like: a cozy mystery with magic instead of murder. (Some cozy fantasy is also cozy mystery.)

    Here are some cozy fantasy titles I’ve read in the past few years:

    I’ve read the first issue of Wyngraf and am a little ways into the second. I believe I’ve read all the flash fiction on their website. I have the other issues, as well as their book of cozy poetry and a book compiling their flash fiction. I own the ebook of Bard City Blues. I’m currently debating whether to also buy the paperback. (Leaning toward yes.)

    Cozy is a vibe: good food, good friends, low stakes. Things like opening a coffee shop or hunting for the tavern cat who’s gone missing (he’s fine, just stuck somewhere). It’s the fantasy version of a Hallmark holiday movie.

    Want to join me in reading some?

    Photo by Pavan Trikutam on Unsplash

    A book is open on a table. A fire in a fireplace is in the background.

    On visiting Paris 🇫🇷

    I’ve been obsessed with Paris as long as I can remember. Maybe it’s because I was born on Bastille Day. Maybe I read Madeline at an early age. Maybe it didn’t get into full swing until I saw a kid perform Music of the Night from The Phantom of the Opera in full costume at a school concert in fourth grade.

    Whatever the origin of this obsession, I feared when I finally got to travel to Paris this past spring as I accompanied my husband on his Fulbright Award travel, I would discover that Paris wasn’t for me. After a long day of travel on the Eurostar from London, carrying full suitcases on escalators and stairs, and going the wrong way on the RER, while my 6 year old complained most of the trip, I was exhausted, sweaty, and cranky.

    But when I stepped onto the street out of the RER station, all of that faded into the background. Paris immediately took my breath away. The Hausmann architecture. The lights. The Art Nouveau vibes of the Printemps department store building. I felt like I had found my heart’s true home.

    We stayed in a nearby garden city, Le Vésinet, for two weeks. Every day, when we walked home from the train station after going into the city, we stopped in at a boulangerie that was on our way home and picked up fresh baguettes and pain de campagne. We went to the Jardin du Luxembourg and my son sailed a boat on their big pond. We toured the Palais Garnier, where The Phantom of the Opera is set.

    The whole place exceeded my every expectation and I eagerly look forward to going back.

    Sparking and Sustaining Connected Learning through Libraries: Insights and Questions at the Connected Learning Summit

    I’ll be leading and participating in a roundtable at the Connected Learning Summit at the end of October. Here’s the description of my session:

    Over the past several years, the Institute of Museum and Library Services has funded multiple projects aimed at promoting connected learning through libraries and building staff capacity to integrate CL into library teen services. In this session, leaders from four of these projects (Transforming Teen Services for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion; Transforming Teen Services: Train the Trainer; Future Ready with the Library: Connecting with Communities for College and Career Readiness Services; and ConnectedLib) will share insights from their work and discuss what the next steps are for sparking and sustaining connected learning through libraries. Roundtable participants will discuss the importance of relationships in and beyond the library for building connected learning-based library services, the role of library administration in creating the conditions in which connected learning services thrive, and how communities of practice can support library staff in collective knowledge-building. Roundtable participants will share their insights, discuss key questions about the future of connected learning through libraries, and have a facilitated conversation with attendees.

    My fellow roundtablers include Linda Braun of The LEO Group, Mega Subramaniam of the University of Maryland College of Information Studies, Katie Davis of the University of Washington Information School, and Leah Larson of the University of Minnesota Extension. Amanda Wortman, Research and Evaluation Manager at Digital Promise, contributed to this work, too, though she has a conflict for the roundtable time.

    Here are more details about the summit:

    Registration is open for the 2023 Connected Learning Summit, happening virtually October 26-28! Join a gathering of innovators harnessing emerging technology to expand access to participatory, playful, and creative learning.

    With a unique focus on cross-sector connections and progressive and catalytic innovation, our summit brings together leading researchers, educators, and developers. Our mission is to fuel a growing movement of innovators harnessing the power of emerging technology to expand access to participatory, playful, and creative learning. We offer a variety of sponsorship opportunities for organizations to demonstrate their commitment to connected learning while aligning with their goals and initiatives.

    Our program will start on October 26 with a pre-conference day for conversation around topics of shared interest, including affinity group meetings, as well as meetups for Research Paper and Showcase contributors. The Main Conference, on October 27-28, will include keynote talks from Dr. Luci Pangrazio and Diana Nucera AKA Mother Cyborg, plenary sessions, and workshops and roundtables organized by CLA partners. The majority of the event will be programmed during work hours in North America, but will also include some programming in the morning hours of Asia and Australia.

    CLS2023 will be entirely online, using the Whova platform. Don’t miss out on early access to our platform starting in early October, with showcase and research paper presentations available for viewing prior to the summit and session sign-ups starting in mid-October!

    For more information, please visit our website and sign up for updates about the Connected Learning Summit.

    About the Connected Learning Summit

    CLS was first convened in 2018 with the mission to fuel a growing movement of innovators harnessing the power of emerging technology to expand access to participatory, playful, and creative learning. It was launched as a merger between three community events with this shared vision and values: the Digital Media and Learning Conference, the Games+Learning+Society Conference, and Sandbox Summit. With a unique focus on cross-sector connections and progressive and catalytic innovation, the event brings together leading researchers, educators, and developers. The hosting and stewardship of the event has continued to evolve in tandem with the changing conditions of the global pandemic. The UC Irvine’s Connected Learning Lab, MIT’s Scheller Teacher Education Program and Education Arcade were the founding hosts of the event. As we have moved online and have become a more international event, we are expanding our roster of partners and hosts.

    Don't miss our roundtable at #CLSummit2023! Saturday, October 28 - 12-1 pm PT: Sparking and Sustaining Connected Learning through Libraries: Insights and Questions. Register today at connectedlearningsummit.org.

    📚 Books about Freelance Writing

    Originally posted on LinkedIn:

    One of the tools in my toolbox for carrying me through times between big projects is freelance writing. As I expect to ramp this piece of my work up when my current contract (which is full-time work) ends, I’ve been revisiting my resources to help me with this.

    Here are 3 books I use for this:

    📕 The Freelance Academic by Katie Rose Guest Pryal
    📗 How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing by Sheeva Azma
    📘 Win at Freelance Writing by Gertrude Nonterah, Ph.D.

    What are your favorite resources?

    Book covers of The Freelance Academic, How to Get Started in Freelance Science Writing, and Win at Freelance Writing

    LinkedIn introduction

    I’ve been experimenting with posting on LinkedIn more frequently and while some of my posts there are posted at my domain first, others are specific to LinkedIn. But in the interest of owning my data (unlike Starfleet, who does not own Data), I thought I’d repost those here at my site.

    Originally posted on LinkedIn:

    Hi there!

    I have a lot of new followers, so I thought it’d be a good time for an introduction post.

    👋🏻True things about my life that shape my work: I’m a mom of an almost-7-year-old. I live with multiple chronic illnesses. I’m the daughter of parents who have multiple chronic illnesses between them.

    💗 Work that lights me up: facilitating learning, either for young people or adults who work with them, and fostering creativity (for anybody).

    📆 My perpetual 5 year plan: do work that’s interesting and important. Right now, that’s research to help library staff leverage youth interests for relationship-building and creating academic, civic, and professional opportunities for youth.

    ◀️ Previously, on Kimberly’s work: blogging about qualitative research methods, researching how cosplayers interact with information, making university makerspaces more inclusive, training librarians and educators on racial equity, leading university outreach to K-12 educators, being librarian for middle schoolers, teaching Latin.

    ❓ What’s next? Hoping to be lower school librarian at my kid’s school, so I’m refreshing my knowledge on collection management and ed tech. Continuing to freelance for businesses interested in qual research, K-12 outreach, and making the Internet better.

    🛝 For fun: Always reading (on a romance tear since May), playing video games, especially couch co-op with my kid & spouse. In pre-kid & pre-pandemic times, community theater and improv.

    🫵🏻 Your turn! What should I know about you?

    I might not eat this whole baguette today.

    When we stayed in Le Vésinet, a suburb of Paris, there was a boulangerie on our walk home from the train station. Every time we went into the city, we would stop there and grab a baguette (and usually some other things, too) to have back at the house. I recently got homesick for Paris and found Sophie Nadeau’s blog post, Here’s How to Recreate the Paris Experience in Your Home.

    This morning, in order to follow her recommendation to eat a typical French breakfast, I went to Guglhupf, which makes excellent baguettes (but is technically a German bakery) and bought 2.

    I don’t know if I’ll polish one off today or not.

    A baguette

    Farewell, Wednesday. 🐈‍⬛💔

    CW: Pet death

    When we brought our kitties home last week, Wednesday had a little nasal discharge. The person at the front desk was all, “Yeah, that’s an upper respiratory infection, they’re super common in shelters, just get her to the vet and they’ll give you some antibiotics.”

    I couldn’t get her into the vet until Monday. By Monday, she had lost a third of her bodyweight. She was severely dehydrated. She was constipated. The vets gave me a bunch of (not inexpensive) meds and gave her subcutaneous fluids. Later in the day, I got the discharge notes and they said I should bring her back the next day for more fluids if she didn’t improve in the night.

    I took her back, they gave her fluids, and I asked if we could give her fluids at home. They said yes, told me what to do to feed her from a syringe (it’s called trickle feeding), and told me they didn’t know if she was going to make it.

    Yesterday, W’s mom came over and we gave her fluids twice. I fed her with a syringe every two or three hours. I gave her all her meds.

    This morning, M went in to check on the kittens and when I went in, I saw that she had died in the night.

    This is, of course, very sad. But it’s also something I’ve been prepared for for a few days. I know I did everything I could for her. I also know, especially after consulting with the vet when I took her for fluids a couple day ago, that the shelter did wrong by her by not only not treating the respiratory infection but also by going ahead and giving her a bunch of vaccines and spaying her while she was sick.

    I know the shelter is struggling, too, so I’m not angry.

    But damn. What a set of events to conspire against a little kitten.

    I only knew her a little and her personality faded as she got sicker, but she was a fierce, adventurous girl.

    On the other hand, her brother Midnight, who also came home with an upper respiratory infection but much less severe, is thriving. We’ll be giving him lots of love and attention.

    On twenty-five years of being together

    Twenty-five years ago tonight, W. and I went on our first date. (Yes, we were young.) We went to see a cross-cast production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Afterward, we went to Ben and Jerry’s.

    A young man sits in front of a fireplace, his arms wrapped around a young woman who sits with him.
    W. and myself after my senior prom, 1999

    I was going to catalog a bunch of memories of those early days together here, but I think I want to keep them in my heart. And, of course, as heady as that first rush of falling in love is, it’s the time after it that builds to an anniversary this big.

    It feels like and is a long time, 25 years. It’s wild because it doesn’t seem to me that we’ve been together that long because how could I still find someone so incredibly delightful after all that time? How is it that every pun he makes still cracks me up? That the way he moves through the world, like literally physically carries himself, can still bring a flush to my cheeks? What miracle is this, to get to spend this much time with someone so great?

    It’s a choice every day to wake up and keep loving each other. To show up, to have patience when we’re not on the same page. To know that even when we’re not on the same page, we’re on the same team. And it’s a blessing, a gift from whomever gives us cosmic gifts, to have the chance to make that daily choice.

    We’re celebrating a quarter century by taking M. to the animal shelter to pick out two kittens to add to our family.

    Bookstore Romance Day Recommendations 📚♥️

    We’re just a few days out from Bookstore Romance Day!

    A couple things to know about romance novels:

    First, they always end with the love interests having either a happily ever after or a happy for now.

    Second, they range in smuttiness from super sweet with hardly any physical intimacy, to quite explicit. But the emotions are always the core of the story, not the smut.

    Here are some of my favorite romance reads. Pick some up at your favorite indie bookstore!

    Mr. and Mrs. Witch by Gwenda Bond. Like Mr. & Mrs. Smith but with a lady witch and her dude witch hunter fiance. World travel, intrigue, blisteringly hot.

    The Widow of Rose House by Diana Biller. Gilded Age, haunted house, widow unfairly subjected to scandal, cute inventor man, fairly steamy.

    Ayesha at Last by Uzma Jalaluddin. Pride & Prejudice but everyone lives in Toronto, is Muslim, and is Indian or Indian-Canadian. Sweet, not even kisses until close to the end.

    Hana Khan Carries On by Uzma Jalaluddin. You’ve Got Mail but with halal restaurants instead of bookstores. Everyone lives in Toronto, is Muslim, and is Indian or Indian-Canadian. Sweet, not even kisses until close to the end.

    Red, White, & Royal Blue by Casey McQuiston. Transatlantic shenanigans where the son of the president of the US hates and then loves the spare prince of England. Very hot, a little explicit but not much, super witty, unputdownable. Read if you watched the movie but wanted more. (Skip the movie if you read it and will be disappointed that they had to combine or change characters and drop a lot of detail to make it work for the screen.)

    The Neighbor Favor by Kristina Forrest. A publishing assistant corresponds with her favorite author, who stopped writing fiction after his book about black elves didn’t sell much and his publisher closed. He ends up being her neighbor and they fall in love. Pretty steamy.

    If you’re more of an audiobook person, see if you can support your local indie bookstore via Libro.fm.

    📚 Research methods in Emily Wilde's Encyclopedia of Faeries by Heather Fawcett

    📚 I am a very specific kind of nerd. In this book, set in 1909, a scholar studying faeries says she’s going to use naturalistic observation and ethnographic interviews as her research methods. I immediately thought this was anachronistic, because I knew Naturalistic Inquiry wasn’t published until 1985.

    I was wrong. It’s not anachronistic, but it does show that Dr. Wilde is using cutting edge methods. While ethnography was first developed as a science in the 18th century, naturalistic observation wasn’t formalized until the turn of the 20th century.

    So. Who cares? Well, me, because I’m a qual nerd. But I’m also a book nerd, so I feel like Wilde’s choice of methods reveals something about her as a character.

    The way she writes about her research shows that she thinks of herself as a natural scientist, observing faerie behavior much as one would observe animal behavior. At the same time, the questions she’s asking and the way she treats her research “subjects” (a term that isn’t cool to use now but is absolutely what you’d use in 1909) shows that she can’t help but treat her research as social research, because surprise! in her world, faeries are people, not animals.

    (What distinguishes people from animals? I’d say for Wilde’s purposes, speech and self-awareness.)

    And now that I’ve written 200+ words about an imaginary scientist’s research methods, I should probably get back to bed.

    The book Emily Wilde's Encyclopedia of Faeries by Hannah Fawcett
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